I sat down with my old boss – Leon Ho, founder and CEO of Lifehack – to discuss how his organization helps individuals be more productive, effective, and successful.
1. Do you still think that goal setting is important? Aren’t people tired of setting goals?
We don’t just call them goals: we instead call them life missions. In addition to coming up with a goal—say, to learn a programming language to be more assertive with your boss—it’s important to understand who you are, what makes you tick, and how you deal with others around you.
Life missions are programmed into your subconscious and the reason why you care deeply about certain things. Once you recognize these life missions, you will be a lot more successful.
2. But if people realize and accept what makes them tick, these life missions, won’t people have to make sacrifices to make sure that they are fulfilling these life missions?
Not at all. In fact, making sacrifices is not good—it causes pain and suffering.
We’ve seen time and time again that most people think that they have to compromise on the mission: they think they have to give up a lot in order to get to where they think they need to be.
But this is all wrong. Giving up one thing for another just causes frustration and even misery. We believe in compromising the method—not the mission. We believe that people can change HOW they do things rather than abandoning one thing for another. The right skills and the right mindset can help with this.
3. So, what happens if people fail to reach a goal?
It’s time we all stop thinking about winning or losing. It puts too much pressure on ourselves to win at all costs for fear of losing—or to beat ourselves up when we lose—that we never give ourselves the opportunity for true growth.
This is known as a progress or growth mindset. As long as people can capture something from the experience—growth, learning, observations, and improvement, no matter how large or small—you’ve succeeded.
This is not a new concept, and we’re not the only ones who’ve been advocating for this. Yet I’m always surprised how much stock people still put in to winning or losing with nothing in between.
4. So what kind of mindset do people need to make sure that they are on track to achieve their goals?
Consistent actions—doing what is necessary, regularly and to the best of one’s abilities—are the answer, of course.
But we also realize that these regular behaviors take a lot of willpower and energy. And that can get very tiring, very fast.
Instead of just relying on willpower, we encourage people to train themselves to be able to carry out these consistent behaviors effortlessly, as if they were on autopilot.
This requires a bit of re-programming, so that taking actions towards your life missions becomes something you do unconsciously—as effortlessly as watching TV or going for a jog.
The most effective people, the top performers, create systems in which success is fully integrated into their daily lives.
5. In other words, the skills to become successful are rather simple, just “stay focused.” Is that it?
Not exactly. To reach your goals and truly live a full life, you need to think differently. Average people only attain average results.
Even before the arrival of social media, we were distracted and pulled in a thousand different directions each day. Unfortunately, those distractions can keep you from fulfilling your life missions and goals.
You need to uncover life multipliers to make you better than average—strategies that make you superhuman.
Ironically, however, these superhuman factors should truly be foundational: part of your everyday routines, skills and abilities that take your confidence and effectiveness to a whole new level.
6. And how do I discover these “life multipliers”?
Good question. You need to take everything I’ve mentioned above and put it all together.
Recognizing your life missions and not sacrificing other parts of your life to achieve them is a start. Staying focused and consistent on the goal will help you discover things about you you didn’t know existed.
Further, not getting too obsessed with winning or losing—and capturing learning along the way—will help you recognize, sharpen, and even celebrate these abilities in ways you couldn’t do before.
Leon Ho is the Founder and CEO of Lifehack – a productivity blog he started in 2005. He was listed as Business Week’s #4 “Top 24 Young Asian Entrepreneurs” and has grown Lifehack into one of the most read self-improvement websites in the world – with over 12 million monthly readers. You can check out his book The Full Life Essential Guide, and take a look at his self-improvement mastercourses here or join one of his free classes here.